I lived on the Canary Islands before British tourists ruined it

Holiday hotspots are attempting to regulate the tourism they receive to make the lives of locals and the impact on the environment that crowds of visitors have more sustainable.

Mass tourism in areas beloved by holidaymakers can lead to overcrowding in city centres, popular beaches and attractions. Moreover, it can lead to the transformation of entire areas, made to cater for the needs of tourists.

This is what happened in parts of the Canary Islands, according to an Express reader who said to have been a former resident of the holiday paradise.

Commenting under a recent article speaking about a number of protesters in Tenerife that lamented the “irreparable damage” created by over-tourism as well as locals telling the rowdiest holidaymakers to “go home”, the Express.co.uk reader recalled seeing with their own eyes the changes that happened in the archipelago as a consequence of mass tourism.

They wrote: “I was living in the Canary Islands in the mid-1960s before this mass tourism madness started, and the islands were beautiful, peaceful and unspoiled. Lanzarote had a village at one end and little else on the rest of the island. The island of Fuerteventura was uninhabited and only islanders with boats went there to hunt rabbits. The island of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria was the only island with an airport, and it was small.

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“Travel between the islands was limited to very slow ferries. When I left Las Palmas city there was no development at all between it and the other end of the island 50 kilometres away.

“When I return there to visit a friend 13 years later, the whole 50km route was nothing but an unbroken string of ghastly resorts, discos, boutiques, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, boat rentals and other tacky tourist stuff. The same has happened to Tenerife.

“I don’t blame the people there as well as in Spain, Italy, Portugal, France and elsewhere for taking steps to restrict tourism because it is ugly and destructive, and noisy. These places that tourists invade are people’s homes and the majority of tourists who seem to want nothing beyond burning themselves to a crisp on a beach, eating, drinking and partying, fail to show any respect for them.”

In a separate comment, the former Canary Islands resident claimed the “scourge of tourists ruined” the Canary Islands. They added: “Ask yourself when mass tourism started and then ask what people were doing with their lives before it began. They certainly were not enjoying a non-stop siesta. Europe prior to the infestation of tourists was a lot better than it is now.

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“I am glad that I travelled all over the continent before mass tourism began because I wouldn’t bother to do so now.”

Other Express readers argued some British tourists can end up behaving badly during their holidays, with one writing: “I always avoid places that have large amounts of English tourists. They normally get drunk and start fights.”

On the other hand, other readers believe holiday hotspots should be careful with what they wish for when trying to regulate tourism, as they could end up hurting the economy.

One wrote: “They don’t mind the tourists money though. If the locals didn’t offer such cheap booze, the problems would disappear.”

Another said: “Watch the economy crumble when tourists stop coming. Then let’s see what happens.”

The Canary Islands, with a population of just 2.2 million, welcomed some 12.6 million foreign tourists in 2022 alone. Among them, nearly five million of the arrivals were from the UK, according to Statista.

Spanish data from INE, Turespaña and the Subdirección General de Conocimiento y Estudios Turísticos gathered by Statista also showed Britons spent more than £14.7m during their vacations across the whole of Spain.

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